AUTHOR: STAFF

HED: Hancock Fabrics to add 48 stores in $22.5 million deal

From staff and wire reports

Tupelo-based Hancock Fabrics has announced it has agreed to buy 48 Northwest Fabrics & Crafts stores for $22.5 million in cash.

The Northwest stores operate in 13 Western and Midwestern states. They are being sold as part of the bankruptcy of Silas Creek Retail and its affiliates. That case is pending before the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. The agreement to buy the stores was announced Wednesday.

The rest of Silas Creek's assets would be sold to ABC Fabrics of Tampa, Fla. Closing is contingent upon bankruptcy court and governmental approvals.

Hancock spokeswoman Ellen Kennedy said the company had been looking at the Northwest stores for some time, and was anxious to bring them into the Hancock fold.

Hancock Fabrics, a retail and wholesale merchant of fabric and home sewing and decorating accessories, operates 439 retail fabric stores in 33 states.

It also supplies more than 100 independent wholesale customers, and operates under the names Hancock Fabrics, Minnesota Fabrics, and Fabric Warehouse.

The company is the second-largest fabric chain in the nation, and has 6,500 employees.

In 1996, Hancock closed 47 stores that it deemed underperforming or low potential. It has closed 27 additional stores this year as well.

It opened another four stores during the second quarter of 1997. During 1996, Hancock had sales of $378 million, a 3.9 percent increase over 1995.

That led to $12.5 million in earnings for 1996, a 40 percent improvement over 1995.

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